Imbeciles, Heroes, Coin Flips & Sweethearts

Sunday Signal

A warm and Western howdy to all those dear and familiar faces and so many fresh ones on this Sunday trail ride through those sometimes shocking, sometimes gloriously calm and pleasant yesteryears of life in the Santa Clarita.

Welcome. Good to see you and then some.

What say you? Shall we mosey into the mystic?


SCV LOSES COIN FLIP — A humble padre up the coast at Mission Santa Buenaventura made a historic decision back on Sept. 3, 1795. The Catholic Church was down to two sites to build their newest mission —  either in San Fernando or Santa Clarita. Father Vincent de Santa Maria made the call and we lost.

AUG. 25, 1919

HISTORIC HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS — Two pioneer Newhall families were linked by marriage. On this date, Lloyd Houghton married Opal Mayhue. Lloyd had just returned from fighting in Europe during World War I and came home to immediately marry his high school sweetheart.

CAR SOLD — STOP THE PRESSES!! — The car was still such a recent invention, it made front-page news whenever a local bought a new one. “Cowboy” Bob Anderson, one-time owner of the former Saugus Speedway, purchased himself a brand new Studebaker to drive to the state fair in Sacramento. Bob was running thoroughbreds at the races there. In fact, the speedway was going to be THE premier race track in Southern California. But a couple of places called Santa Anita and Hollywood Park aced the Santa Clarita Downs out of the running. Hm. Wonder how many cars we sell in a day here in the SCV? More than two?

AUG. 25, 1929

CAMPING TRAGEDY — The Carranza family woke to screams in the middle of the night. En route to Bakersfield, they camped just north of Castaic. Sleeping outside, the father woke to the distant cries of his 9-year-old son screaming, “Papa! Papa!” The family, penniless and friendless, searched for days with sheriff’s deputies for the missing boy. Searchers believed he wandered off and either fell off a cliff or was the victim of a mountain lion.

ROBERT PLANT, JIMMY PAGE AND THE BOYS? — Well, uh, no. Just about everybody in town was grinning in amazement as the great German air ship, the Graf Zeppelin (no relation to Led Zeppelin) landed at Newhall International Airport. The pilot, Dr. Eckener, upon landing, said: “Glad to be here” and Lady Drummond Hayes said, upon stepping off at our tiny airstrip: “Hello, everybody. I’m so happy to be in friendly California.” Signal Editor A.B. Thatcher, renowned for his hatred of mechanical devices floating while carrying homo sapiens in their bellies, warned in somber tones that these great airships were an accident waiting to happen. A few years later and old Dad Thatcher was right. The Hindenburg crashed in New Jersey. It prompted one of the most famous quotes of the 20th century: “Oh! The humanity!!”

WHEN THEY SAY “THEY DON’T PAY ME ENOUGH,” THE CHP WASN’T KIDDING — Here’s one for you. California Highway Patrolmen in 1929 made between $150 and $500 a month, depending on what county they worked in. They were required to not only pay for their uniforms, but also, in some cases, supply their own cars.

AUG. 27, 1933

THE SCV’S MOST SIGNIFICANT SOUL — Atholl McBean was elected president of The Newhall Land and Farming Co. on this date by members of the Newhall family. NL&F was a privately held family corporation and they voted old Atholl in to basically save the farm. It has been successfully argued that Atholl is the SCV’s most historically significant person in at least the 20th century because he turned around the company and helped set the stage for the planned community Valencia is today. And yup. McBean Parkway is named after the curmudgeon…

AUG. 25, 1939

ANOTHER HUNTING HORROR STORY — A red-faced local rancher angrily complained about the idiot hunters who infested the SCV and particularly his ranch during deer season. The cowboy listed a litany of woes, including how deer hunters would shoot holes through his posted no hunting signs; how they shot his calves and chickens for target practice or meanness; how one blew holes in his water tank with his .30-.30 and how they camped out on his property, pulling up fence posts to use as fire wood. A Signal editorial suggested that several Newhall folks should follow the hunters back to Los Angeles, “ … shoot out the window lights of their apartments, fill their pet pooch full of bird shot, strew their 2-by-4 hallway with old tin cans, scare the daylights out of their wives and children, and build a good roaring fire in the middle of their living room. Oh my yes — THAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT!” Now THAT’S an editorial.

OUR NOBLE CORRESPONDENT — Wheatley Glaze, Signal columnist from Val Verde, reported that the black, or “colored” as he referred to them in his piece, employees of MGM Studios held their company picnic at Val Verde Park. Literally thousands showed up for the shindig, including jazz and swing legend, the band leader, Les Hite.

AUG. 25, 1949

WELL. IT’S HOT, OR IT’S NOT — The Mighty Signal stopped running the weather on the front page for the first time in 20 years. The old airport (about where Granary Square is today) closed two days earlier and with it, we stopped getting official National Weather Service reports for this area.

NOW THAT’S A PROPER COWBOY VEHICLE — Just about every kid in town was at the American Theater on this date. Jim Bannon was making a special appearance. Jim played the cowboy, Red Ryder, in the serial pictures. He pulled up not on a horse, but a big, white, Lincoln convertible with Texas longhorns on the hood. The gear shift was an actual .45 Colt revolver and the door handles were silver horseshoes. Interior was saddle leather and to lock the thing, you just pushed gold bullets on the door.

AUG. 25, 1959

OUR LOST AIRPORT — A lot of kinks appeared in the necks of Canyon Country residents. They had a skydiving exhibition at the old 6S Sky Ranch (a privately owned airport near Whites Canyon today; “6S” stands for the six Schultzes in the family).

AUG. 28, 1962

THE GREAT FIRE — Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch burned to the ground on this date in the great Placerita Canyon forest fire. It was one of the most destructive and biggest blazes to hit the SCV. Through a world-wide call to actors, directors and movie people who provided photographs, the ranch was later rebuilt to its original look by the Veluzat family.

AUG. 25, 1969

THREE GOOD SOULS — Ken Clow and Ian Bruce died in an explosion at Bermite on this date. Within a couple years, Ken’s younger brother, Joe committed suicide.

AUG. 25, 1979

FAREWELL, LELAND — Leland Bowman died on this date, 40 years back. He moved to Newhall in 1921. His wife, Jereann, was a Hart board member after whom Bowman High was named.

SCV TURNS INTO OPPOSITE UNIVERSE — This was billed as a “Man Bites Dog” story. The CHP reported that a man in his car by Jack-in-the-Box in Newhall was rushed by three teen-aged girls wearing short-shorts. The girls pounded on his car, waving bags of candy and begging him to give them a ride. Time out. I know the cops tell the kids never to get in a car with a man offering you candy, not the other way around.

Surely and dearly appreciate the company on these Sunday morning time rides through our local history and heritage. You people are good medicine. Hate to part company, but, it’s time — for a week at least — to go our separate ways. On the bright side, I’ll see all y’all in seven with another exciting Time Ranger adventure. Until then —vayan con Dios, amigos! 

John Boston has been writing about SCV history for more than 40 years. Read his historical tome, “Images of America: The Santa Clarita Valley” on Check out his History of The Mighty Signal series on Saturdays on A1.

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